Heating equipment such as furnaces and space heaters are the leading cause of home fires in Ontario.
It’s during the winter months of December – March where an estimated 8 people die due to fires in Ontario with 75% of those fatalities being traced back to fires that start in the home.
As a loss prevention leader, we feel it’s important for us all to go over our home heating appliances and remember some important furnace safety and maintenance tips.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL FOR FURNACE INSTALLATION
The installation and repairs of gas, propane or wood appliances should be done by a qualified and licensed serviced contractor. This includes all top Canadian furnace brands like Goodman, KeepRite and Lennox.
We recommend to have your furnace inspected on an annual basis by a TSSA registered HVAC contractor.
For those with a chimney, it’s especially important to have it inspected and cleaned each year before the burning season begins.
GIVE THEM SOME SPACE
Make sure that your furnace and fireplace aren’t crowded.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have a 3 foot radius surrounding the heating appliance to help ensure:
- That there is free air flow
- Any combustible materials are not too close to the heat source to avoid ignition
- Ample space for a service technician to access and work on the furnace
REPLACE YOUR FURNACE AIR FILTER
A dirty filter will restrict airflow, make your furnace work harder and increase your natural gas usage.
Most people want to keep their monthly utility expenses as low as possible and everyone should want to keep their home as safe as possible. Changing your furnaces air filter every 3 months accomplishes both.
A fresh air filter also helps your furnace last longer while improving air quality in the home.
Depending on the size, rating and brand of the furnace filter, the cost can typically range between $10-$30. This makes replacing furnace air filters a relatively low cost and simple DIY furnace maintenance task.
USE A FIREPLACE SAFETY SCREEN
Make sure that fireplaces have a safety screen around them when in operation and always make sure children and pets are supervised when around high heat appliances to avoid accidents and burns.
Never use a fireplace with cracked safety screen glass and always make sure the fireplace is cooled before cleaning it or emptying the ashes.
When it is time to clean your fireplace, empty the ashes into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid and keep the container outside away from any structure or combustible material.
Fire ashes can hold enough heat to ignite combustible materials (including improper storage and disposal containers) even after several days.
CLEAR BLOCKED VENTS
Get in the habit of checking that your homes external heating pipes are not blocked a few times per year. This is especially true in the winter when shoveled snow or drifts can block vents and pipes outside.
A blocked vent can be a fire hazard by forcing your furnace to be overworked. A blockage can also cause carbon monoxide built up inside the home.
INSTALL AND TEST CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
Speaking of carbon monoxide, make sure to install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms on every floor of your home and be sure to test them every month. If you have a fuel-burning appliance like a gas or oil furnace, it’s the law in Ontario that you must have these installed in your home.
Carbon monoxide detectors need to be placed on every floor of the home including the basement. They should not be placed near a heating source and they should be located within 10 feet of every bedroom door.
If you are unsure about something, have a question about placement of carbon monoxide detectors or other fire related concerns, always reach out to your local fire department for clarification.
Following these tips can help keep you safe and warm all winter long!
Read more about fire safety tips for home owners
Now’s a good time to give yourself a quick refresher on how to use a fire extinguisher
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.